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SMART REGION – Building communities and promoting territorial cohesion with analytics

SMART REGION – Building communities and promoting territorial cohesion with analytics

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In the context of a fast-changing technological environment, the possibility to use data to create value for society and apply analytical knowledge and discovery processes to data-driven public policies could have a huge impact on regional planning. Smart Region project, made visible in the Oeste Region (Portugal), is a territorial analytical integrated platform designed to change the paradigm of how local authorities will manage public policies leveraged by data-driven decision-making.

Smart Region project from NOVA IMS conceived and tested a framework that could foster data-driven local public policies in their different stages, where interventions are grounded on facts using data and processing capacities integrated in an analytical platform, with automatic updating. This platform integrates data from multiple sources, namely from municipalities and external entities, that allows presently the adoption of an analytical approach in regional planning, along with the creation of new products and services for citizens of the 12 municipalities of the Intermunicipal Community of Oeste (CIM Oeste). Leveraged by the integrated data infrastructure that was built, it was possible to develop several dynamic reports and dashboards to produce a deeper understanding of the region metabolism and use that knowledge to identify the opportunities and challenges faced by the local authorities, with the information regarding economic, social and environmental impact, aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. All these reports were then embedded in the Smart Region platform where access can be granted to mayors, municipal technical services, and citizens in general.

Amongst the possibilities of using the Oeste Smart Region pilot is the ability to analyse how much money was spent over time and space, in what activity, and by whom or how the public transport system of Oeste CIM is performing. Moreover, information about companies, local accommodation for tourists, waste collection and greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions per municipality is also available in reports contributing to the understanding of the business fabric, pressure of local accommodation, waste management and climate changes in the region. In this project, the local authorities involved received training that increased their knowledge regarding data governance, the management of geographic information data infrastructures, and analytical capabilities to guarantee sustainability and resilience after the funding period was over.

Being true that, at the national level, the impact is very significant, which is confirmed by the alignment of the approach with the national strategy for smart territories, and also by the fact that other CIMs have already engaged with NOVA Cidade – Urban Analytics Lab to apply the Smart Region model, Smart Region team is now also going international, since they are in the process of signing a cooperation agreement to take it to Brazil. This international recognition is also confirmed by the ESRI SAG Award that NOVA Cidade – Urban Analytics Lab received at the ESRI Annual World Conference, in San Diego, an event that brings together more than 40 thousand people from all over the world and showcases what the leading trends and success stories in the field. Altogether, based on a combination of business intelligence, data science and geographic information systems, the Smart Region project empowered Oeste mayors to monitor, in real-time, the territory dynamics and the impact of public policy interventions.